Scripture: Acts 16:25-40
Key verses: (25-31) 25About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. 26Suddenly there was an earthquake, so violent that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were unfastened. 27When the jailer woke up and saw the prison doors wide open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, since he supposed that the prisoners had escaped. 28But Paul shouted in a loud voice, “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here.” 29The jailer called for lights, and rushing in, he fell down trembling before Paul and Silas. 30Then he brought them outside and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” 31They answered, “Believe on the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.”
Reflection: One of the ways to study a passage of scripture, or to reflect on its meaning, is to ask yourself: “Where am I in this story?” This passage from Acts with Paul and Silas in prison is a great one to use in that way. There are a number of possible perspectives, each of which help us understand a little of the power of God.
Maybe you are with Paul and Silas, followers of Jesus who have been locked up, yet sing their faith boldly. They trust God to take care of them. They have compassion for their fellow prisoners, and even for the jailer. Perhaps you are there in prison with them, and a song of faith wells up in you anyway.
Or maybe you are another one of the prisoners, also locked up tight. But stories like this one are like the sounds of someone singing from the next cell. Somehow, despite the circumstances, people have faith in a loving God. Somewhere compassion and love win out over revenge and hate. Perhaps your own chains will unfasten as you listen and hum along.
Or maybe you are with the jailer. Just doing your job the best way you can, the ethics of which sometimes bother you if you are honest with yourself. Perhaps an example of faith and love has come out of the blue for you, and you wonder how to catch hold of some of that music and grace for yourself. Perhaps you are like that trembling jailer.
Wherever you are in this story, know that you are not alone. There are others with you. Some are singing about the love of God. Some are listening for a recognizable tune. Some are amazed that the song is also for them, and for us all. Thanks be to God!
Prayer: Lord, wherever I am in this story, give me a song to sing. Help me to trust, to love, and to rejoice. May my joy then spill over to be an invitation to others. In the name of Christ, I pray. Amen.
Author: Julie Hester
[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].